AFC Asian Cup qualifiers: India vs Laos - 5 players to look out for
Following their disappointing preliminary round exit in their World Cup qualifying campaign, India will look to bounce back in style when they take on Laos in a two-legged play-off qualifier for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in Vientiane, Laos on Thursday.
India were left to feature in this playoff match after they finished at the bottom of their group during the preliminary round of the joint qualification campaign of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup, managing to win just three points from eight matches in their group.
They desperately need to begin the home and away play-off tie well if they want to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to even qualify to play in the qualifiers of the Asian Cup.
We take a look at five players worth watching in the fixture.
#1 Jeje Lalpekhlua (India)
Jeje Lalpekhlua has had a stellar year in front of goal for Mohun Bagan as well as the ISL franchise Chennaiyin FC. He netted a total of 25 goals this season, leading Chennaiyin FC to their maiden ISL trophy with 6 goals to his name and helped the Mariners win their 14th Federation Cup trophy, emerging as their top scorers with a tally of 8 goals, equalling Chhetri's record from a few years earlier.
The Mizoram native had also played a crucial role in India clinching the SAFF Championships in January, and was subsequently named the Indian Player of the Year. The forward will look to capitalize on a defence which had leaked 29 goals in their preliminary qualification round for the 2018 World Cup, and give India a comfortable lead in the first leg of the tie itself.